The Leyland cypress (Cupressocyparis leylandii) is a vigorous, fast-growing conifer that is a classic for trimmed hedges and plant screens.
When allowed to grow freely, Leyland Cypress, Cupressocyparis leylandii, stretches its many flat, flexible branches 18 to 30 feet wide at the base along a trunk that can reach 60 to 90 feet in height.
This conifer has a pyramidal habit and dark green evergreen leaves.
When to plant the leyland cypress hedge?
Plant cypress as a hedge preferably in the fall. You can also plant it in winter, if it doesn’t freeze, and until early spring. Avoid the other months of the year, when watering should be more consistent and frequent.
Where to plant a leyland cypress hedge?
At the edge of the land to be bordered, along a fence, at the end of the garden to create a green screen, as a windbreak or a privacy screen.
Give it a clear space so that it can benefit from a good sunshine.
Planting the leyland cypress
Leyland cypress or Leylandii is usually planted in hedges.
Planting takes place in the fall, but it can also be planted up to March-April outside of the frost period.
- For a cypress hedge, a space of 30 inches between each shrub is necessary
- Water well the first year after planting
After planting, you can mulch the foot to prevent weeds from invading the base of the plant but also to protect it from the cold.
- In both cases, maritime pine bark is perfectly adapted but any other mulch will fulfill this function perfectly.
Growth of Leyland Cypress
Leyland cypresses are chosen because they are among the fastest growing shrubs.
Properly planted and watered, Leyland Cypress can gain several dozen inches per year.
To accelerate the growth of the Leyland Cypress
First of all, it is advisable to plant it well at the base to ensure a good rooting and thus a good recovery.
Then, regular watering during the first year and then as soon as the weather is warm will allow it to meet its water needs.
Fertilizing in the spring and fall will give it the tone it needs to grow better.
Finally, regular pruning will give the Leyland cypress more vigor.
How far apart should I plant Leyland Cypress?
The optimal spacing varies between 3 ft. and 5 ft. for plants measuring approximately 12 inches in diameter.
For a hedge, the planting distance between two cypress trees is smaller than for a classic planting. We advise you to space them every 4 ft, if the subjects are already 12 inches in diameter (including foliage) and if you are patient. Otherwise, reduce the spacing to one meter for a faster result.
Cultivation and maintenance of Leyland cypress
For a spring planting, water regularly until fall the first year. After that, plan on watering weekly only during periods of high summer heat or drought for the first few years. For this, installing a drip system, especially if your hedge is long, is recommended as it will save you time and water.
Also, mulching the feet of the hedge will prevent the presence of grass, bring humus to the soil and keep it cool in summer.
During the first few years, you can apply nitrogen fertilizer in the spring to promote growth.
Pruning Leyland Cypress
To maintain the volume and aesthetics of your hedge, you will need to do one or more annual pruning. Indeed, a hedge that is pruned occasionally risks no longer providing a regular screen and will lose its aesthetic appeal by revealing branches that are usually hidden by the branches.
When to prune?
Except for periods of frost, you can prune your Leyland cypress with a hedge trimmer all year long. However, for mature trees, a spring pruning around April followed by a late summer pruning around August should be appropriate.
For a young growing hedge, you will need to prune about 4 times a year to maintain a regular shape.
How to prune?
Preferably use an electric or thermal hedge trimmer with a long cutting bar, which will facilitate good alignment.
For the top of the hedge, use either a double ladder or a long-handled hedge trimmer with adjustable cutting angle (can be rented).
You can lower a hedge that has become too high by removing about a third of the height without any particular consequences.
Why are leyland hedges no longer recommended?
- A disease, the cypress canker from the United States, is transmitted to all cypress trees: the Leyland hedges, which are very numerous, create a mesh throughout France which allows insects to propagate this cryptogamic disease which cannot be cured; certain branches of the Leyland tree turn brown and dry up, and then the whole tree succumbs. In a hedge, the disease is transmitted from tree to tree. There is no solution except to replace the hedge.
- Leylands require a lot of maintenance: 2 prunings per year. It is imperative not to be overwhelmed by their growth.
- Their dark green screen is quite sad, compared to so many other flowering shrubs, more favorable to biodiversity.
- It has been shown that compact coniferous hedges are not the best windbreaks: they produce turbulence instead of slowing the wind, as is the case with a less opaque hedge.
Multiplication of Leyland Cypress
The varieties of Leyland cypress being sterile, you can easily multiply them only by cuttings. Grafting is too delicate and demanding and should be left to professionals.
When to take cuttings ?
You can take cuttings in summer or autumn, depending on the method chosen.
How to take cuttings ?
In the summer, proceed with cuttings by smothering from young branches that are still green.
In autumn, use semi-hardened branches with an old wooden stub at the base and place them under a cold frame.
In all cases, you can transplant these cuttings to their final location the following year.